Friday, 19 November 2010

Great North Walk 100 Miler 13/14 November

After injury and illness in September, i'd decided that October was going to be the big comeback month with at least a marathon each weekend, with the aim to be back in really good running shape for Coast to Kosci in November. Being 25th on the waitlist for the Great North Walk 100 Miler (which i'd done in 2008), didn't really give serious consideration to the fact i may end up doing it, but late in October (with the 46 KM Bribie Beach Bash and Melbourne and Toowoomba Marathons under the belt) was offered a start.

The next day i was off to Lamington National Park to mark the course for the "Lamington Classic" and simply to check the course was runnable as storms the previous fortnight made it debatable in my mind, so i told the race organiser i was off bush for a few days (and 3 days of running 44K's of trails should make up my mind as to whether my mind was really into a trail run at that time). Ultimately the answer was yes so i had an extra long Ultra now to finish off a very patchy 2010, no horrifically bad performances but no real highlights either (and until the week previous not one solo win, had one at least on race per year since 1994 and was desperate to keep that streak up, guess at best i could count my Sydney Trailwalker mixed team win).

Knew this was one race i had to get really organised for as Checkpoints are around 20 miles apart and there are plenty of maps and descriptions to carry as well as fluids and various compulsory gear. Also whilst i'd done it two years previously i'd actually forgotten how i'd got my car from the start to the finish over 100 Miles away !!.

So firstly a note on Coolrunning to see how that could be achieved and i was offered accommodation and a lift to and from the race from a couple of coolrunners who knew me better than i knew them to be honest, so a very big thanks to Graham and Jo as that worked out perfectly.

After checking out parts of the course into and out of Checkpoint 4 (Yarramalong) and most importantly to me going over the 2010 deviation (due to Cyprus Rust disease we weren't able to use one part of the course this year), ended up doing 20 odd K's the day before (thankfully fish and chips from the Yarramalong General store kept me well fuelled !), which personally i thought ideal, after all i'd spent the previous day driving 600K's in the car and really do need to run (or at least walk) every day.

Found my way to Avoca Beach to my accommodation and with a very steep walkway down to the house felt like i was moving enough stuff out the car to stay permanently as i needed to fix up my dropbags beforehand as this would be a very early start.

Thankfully fellow ultra runner Kevin "Brick" Heaton had already arrived so at least now i was assured of having my normal camelbak, i hadn't seen it since Trailwalker (where i hadn't used it but had accidentally left it with our crew) and as late as the day before was organising getting it from my Trailwalker Team Mate Paul to Kevin as i really wasnt anxious for a drive into Sydney.

To be honest i hadn't used it since the Glasshouse 100 Miler in September 09, as i much prefer using the handheld bottles but with extra gear would need it this time, had an older one just in case but this was much better in terms of number of pockets and having used it in this event previously had been worried about not having it. Beautiful lasagna and a beer and a lot of chatting about running (maybe i needed an interpreter with all being English Expats !).

Having to leave at 4:30 meant i'd be settiny my alarm for 3:30 and then i realised i had no idea how to on the new phone.
After 15 minutes of fiddling with the phone decided i needed a shower and half an hour later my alarm was set, shame it was to wake me in less than 5 hours.

Typically woke up a couple of minutes before my alarm and headed down to breakfast (my usual 6 Vita Brits, muesli, yogurt and banana, only missing fruit salad), and soon the rest were up as well.
Reasonably full car but worked out it was only 50 minutes to the start line and we were there by 5, plenty of familiar faces as we checked in and handed in our drop backs (and had our pre race photos taken).
Of note it was interesting to see Hardrock finishers, Andy Hewitt and Phil Murphy who had already run from the actual start of the trail at Newcastle 30K's away with the aim of breaking the record for the entire course to Sydney, apparently held by race favourite Andrew Vize, as well as the only person to have finished all 6 GNW 100 Milers Wayne "Blue Dog" Gregory.
We then had the race briefing and finally (and not a minute too soon i'm useless at waiting and had pretty much been ready to run from the time i woke) we were off.
Was already warm and seemed it would be humid, so minimal gear, old faithful Lululemon top, Nike Dryfit shorts and headband with the Nike Free Run+'s and Drymax Maximum protection Trail running socks on the feet, as well as the Camelbak with required equipment to weigh me down :-).
Supposedly we were to run with the traffic along the road early on, but with massive tip trucks on their way backwards and forwards seemingly totally disregarding us, this was pretty nerve wracking and i was quite relieved to finally make it onto a trail. Easy early on as we headed underneath the freeway and towards Heatons Gap but even at this early point some runners were making navigational errors with one pair running towards me before we'd even made the road. On reaching the road it was great to see some of the crews and spectators but knew from then on it was going to be a hard slog.
Up numerous wooden steps and then it was very rainforest like, was in a group of 4 or so and already at this early stage the humidity was kicking in savagely. any thoughts i may have had of ever doing the Brazil 135 Mile race were eveaporation away rapidly, only wish my sweat was.
At one point to the shock of Glenn Lockwood (who knows my lack of navigational ability very well) i ended up in front of our group as we got a little lost, only o then lead them astray and head back to the back of our pack, finally after what seemed like hours (but couldn't have been), we were on the escarpment with views of the Hunter Valley, soon we would be hitting Checkpoint 1.
Although only 26K's away it had taken 4 hours to get there and i was keen to drink and eat as much as possible, every drop bag had a bottle of Gatorade as well as a GU and fruit bar and Clif Bar and a scoop of either Cytomax or Accelerade so that i would have only need water in my camelbak bladder but have a real useful sportsdrink in my handheld.
Skolled my bottle of Gatorade as well as had some of the Powerade supplied and some orange pieces and water melon, too early for me to eat too much yet.
Was gone within around ten minutes and running with another bloke (i'm useless at names he'll know who he was), for a while it was easy 4WD track running but ultimately we made it to Barrabas camp area and back onto the thinner trails again, i was feeling good but the humidity was drenching me and i was worried about chafing in the inner thighs, hadn't felt those sort of conditions since the Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells section of Badwater 2008, i'd have to keep an eye on that, was regretting i didnt have my Diaper Cream in the Camelbak (hoped i did at least have it in a drop bag).
Knew there was some running along the fence line and a gate, and possibly the funniest thing was me opening the gate and holding it for the next fellow along (only a minute away) as i accidentally let get go of it and it swung towards him (swear i didnt know him well enough for it to be some dirty race tactic), was surprised to see Rachel Waugh also at this point (her husband David was far in front battling for the lead i assumed), eventually i hit Congewai Road, will admit the puddles in the paddocks left by recent heavy rain looked so refreshing and tempting but also knew that soon i could stop and replenish at Checkpoint 2.
A number of runners on the road certainly livened me up, was happy for myself to see Blue Dog, but knew that he must be doing it hard (and injuries catching up with him) for me to see him this early.
Tookn at seat at CP 2 Congewai School and ate as much as i could as well as grabbing a fresh supply of S! Caps, i'd been through my first 10 in only 55 odd K's, was definitely feeling the heat, as well i put on my legionaires cap to replace my headband otherwise i'd be burnt to a crisp.
Ran with Gordie another localish runner for a while as we found our way through the paddocks and unfortunately couldn't avoid getting our feet wet crossing the dam, by now i was sweating profusely and had my shorts tucked in the waistband to avoid excessive rubbing, only wish i'd brought a pair of speedos to wear instead (as i'd carried the whole way in 2008).
From then it was up and more up, caught up with some runners and was passed by others was really looking forward to the unmanned drink stop at the top.
I'd pushed myself hard and almost up really felt my heart beating very rapidly so decided next chance i had i'd stop and sit and simply get some deep breaths in, next big tree with a root formation seemed ideal and sat there for a few minutes gathering my thoughts and relaxing, until the next runners came along.
Finally made it to the unmanned stop (which was manned by race director Dave Byrnes), and having a chat with him (between large intakes of water), heard that Blue Dog had rang to say he'd pull out here, very sad but for once he was doing the right thing by his body.
From then on it was relatively easy and a nice trail follow with even some shade, soon i was with another Coolrunning mate and we ran together, good idea as i always find the track into the Basin (CP3) confusing.
We were going the correct way (as evidenced by the faster runners coming towards us) when our biggest problem hit, a massive tree across the track, i tried above he tried below and ultimately that was the way to go, worrying at this point though as we knew we would encounter it in the dark on the way back.
Ultimately we would encounter one more fallen tree before the checkpoint but it was relatively easy although with tired legs the climb seemed much harder.
Finally we made it to CP3, Michael Lovric (a multiple finisher and Australian representative) was there and happily played waiter to me, a day of humidity and total sweat meant my top was now soaked beyond redemption and with evening setting in i was beginning to feel the chill, very thankful he offered me a long sleeve t shirt. Now it was the time i would struggle, on with the reflective vest and headlamp and also time to put on the Buff, still very warm but with the setting sun hidden from where we were cold could be an issue for me.
Spent a deal of time there, but though it was well spent having soup and fruit salad, knew soon it would be pitch black so headed off eventually, managed to go off track somewhere between 1 and 2 fallen trees as i was very close to the creek and could see runners above me, thankfully saw Rachel and she directed me up the track, was dreading that big fallen tree but as luck would have it reached it concurrently with some people going the other way, still a pain but between us we worked it out.
Now i was on trails i hadnt seen since 2008, was a little lost in one section and expected to see Paul Every (who'd reached CP3 not far behind) and asked him about the smallish snake at my feet, however it wasn't, possibly better it was one of the local runners who had done this section in the dark in training.
Finally we hit the road and i well and truly knew where i was having been there the day before, however i also knew we had 12 K's till checkpoint 4. In 2008 myself and Michael had absolutely flown his stretch loving the road but this time it was run, walk up minor incline, maybe run, maybe walk and so on, eventually hit Yarramalong a little after 11 (17 hours in !). Knew i had no intention of dropping to a 100K finish but nevertheless really spent too long at that checkpoint eating, drinking and even for 15 minutes laying down on a campbed, was what i needed at the time.
Eventually i headed off, knew this next section perfectly so that i wouldn't have any temptation to pull the pin.
Michael was pacing another runner and they passed me just of Bumble Hill road as we hit the track claiming that his was the 9.5 Hour train, wasnt interested at that point i had to make my own pace, probably making up ground when daylight came.
As i staggered towards the top of the hill i could see two headlights in front of me, i was a little mystified as they appeared to be going of track and once i made the top i could see it was Glenn (and his pacer TW teammate Keith Hong), they appeared to be heading off into the paddocks rather than on the road and then the detour, i yelled out to them and shone my torch and appeared to get a reaction as they turned around, so thought they were right.
Going down along the road to the new turn i could see them again out in the paddock, somehow they were still lost, again shone a torch at them, wasn't really sure if they had replied (and by then my voice was soft with tiredness - not normally megaphone me) but doubted they could go too wrong from there.
Finally made the deviation and headed off to where i'd been on the Friday, certainly no need for the unmanned water stop, it was still very warm and humid (and not a bit refreshing) but i wasnt drinking as much now, as i reached there was passed by another runner with pacer, really hoped it was Glenn but on speaking to them found they had seen them so at least they were back on track.
Managed to get the feet wet again at Ourimbah Creek and despite everything my feet were beginning to feel a bit tender, i'm guessing the heat of the day had swollen them and now they were relatively soft, next part to me was a mystery i had maps i had directions but somewhere something didn't feel right, followed the road for a long way and stopped at intervals to see if farm names matched up with it, at one point even sat down on the side of the road on an abandoned plastic chair near some roadworks, oddly enough when there a car came by but going by the speed it appeared to be going wasnt game to pop up and ask for directions.
By now it was almost getting lighter and i saw the Somersby forest sign that at least appeared to jel with my instructions but this is where i do get confused as it seemed very familiar as though i'd been along it an hour or two previously, maybe i did stuff up somewhere my mind was beyond solving that puzzle.
Finally Somersby school, a real toilet, food, drink, toast with vegemite (normally i love multigrain bread but with that level of tiredeness i've never struggled to eat toast so badly before), off with the lights and also the T shirt simplest idea now was to run the rest of the way in the reflective vest.
An "Up N Go" and a quick read of the instructions and i was off, had vague memories of being really refreshed running this section in 2008, but between chafing and tender feet doubted i'd be going that sort of speed again.
Maybe i'm a rubbish judge of distance but at one point (before the water storage area) i thought i'd gone too far or missed a turn, thankfully within
5 minutes i'd run into antoher run who assured me i was on course. Over Mooneny Mooney Creek and all was beginning to feel good, so nice to not have to cling to rocks and slippery trails and soon i was at the last checkpoint.
One last chance to put my feet up and get my thoughts together, looked like this time i wouldnt be seeing too many other runners so had to keep my wits about me.
Within a K saw a lady sitting not wanting to go on, didnt really have much persuasion left in me so was thankful she had another runner with her, from then on it was sandstone rocks and more sandstone rocks, passed two more runners and then almost immediately took a wrong turn as i tried to make sense of directions about waterfalls (the brain was struggling by now, worse than my body !), finally made it to the unmanned water drop where i drank copiously as well as filling up everything i had, this was going to be a long, hot, dry last 15K's. As usual never quite sure of my navigation so kept on stopping at corners as they all looked the same to me, could feel i was melting away (and probably being roasted to a crisp) in my plastic reflective vest but by now i had one thought only get to the finish line and i could stop, nothing simpler !.
Finally i crossed the Patonga Beach road had very fond memories of this sections and was simply letting my body take over as it knew there was not long to go. With a mile or so to go i ran out of water and cytomax, talk about perfect timing, downhill then the beach and i could stop.
Finally 32 hours and 8 minutes on, i arrived at the finish line, kissed the GNW sign marker and essentially just stopped on the spot.
Feet were sorer than i can ever remember but strangely unblistered just cut on top from them swelling may have taken a few minutes for me to take the shoes and socks off but then it was in for a dip, relieved and very happy.
If i'm honest in ultra race number 249 this was my hardest, after all in Badwater and Coast to Kosci we are on roads and never far from our crews here we are on trails seemingly miles from civilization and carrying all we need for miles, tough incredibly tough, may have only been 13th but i was first of the interstate runners and at times in deep thoughts out there reckoned we should have had three divisions: Runners with pacers, runners who'd trained on the trail and the rest of us, tender feet, raw chafed inner thighs and bloodied lower back from camelbak bouncing but all was well with me, 4 weeks to get my body back into one piece for Coast to Kosci :-)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Australian 100KM Championships 13th June

Was great to have a fortnight between events (although i ended up aging a year in that time :-)), but now it was back to the serious stuff, my local race The Gold Coast 100, which is also the Australian Championships.

Myself and Anna Maria and trained quite regularly here and by now she was feeling as at home as i was (she was doing the 50).

After shockers here the last 3 years i had one goal and that was to get back under 9 hours, only one house guest this year, Malcolm Gamble, so not quite the usual houseful of runners but was hoping we'd all have an early finish.

Had been a little worried about just what would happen at our start finish line as being a long weekend there was "Green Day Out" festival as well as some marching band parade as well as some charity walk with our Mayor Ron Clarke, Kurrawa was going to be a happening place !!.

With the 50K also being an Australian Championship (due to the cancellation of the Canberra Marathon with 50K), there were some strong runners out there, Dean Cook, Andrew Lee, Kerrie Bremner, Chris Hill, Brendan Davies as well as Susannah (also doing Badwater) and Malcolm, knew i just had to run my own race and hopefully pick up a placing before it was over.

Started the first lap with my Lululemon top and buff and gloves and was feeling good, thankfully not too many people around too.

Now it was getting crowded at Kurrawa but with 4:03 for the split knew i had a decent time in front of me, so it was off with the top and gloves and buff and on with the headband. Always find that 3rd lap bit of a nothing lap but no choice but do it by now the other competitors were familiar and i could judge whether they were making ground on me or i on them.

Still not much time to worry about that as Wednesday it was off to Los Angeles and my third Badwater.

Noosa Half Marathon 23rd May

On Friday Anna Maria had flown in but going Montreal to Vancouver to Sydney to Brisbane had missed a connecting flight in Sydney (hardly surprising i've never found Sydney a good place to fly into and would always prefer to drive there).
So instead of picking her up around lunchtime picked her up around 3 by which time the weather had deteriorated, was looking like we'd have a wet weekend in Noosa.
Saturday the weather had cleared and we had a good drive north stopping in to see Bill and Jane Thompson on the way (Anna Maria had seen me eat Custard Apples on skype but had never had one herself, a new treat).
Time to pick up our race packs and then find our accommodation in Noosaville, went for a walk that evening trying to work out how far we'd need to walk to the start the next morning, but with my debatable sense of direction never found it in the dark !!.
Come race morning it was coolish and clear, pretty ideal for that sort of shortish event, pretty much my goal being to do under 90 minutes not having done that in my two last year (first time in over 20 years not a streak i was happy to break).
With around 1,200 runners was finding it hard to get a comfortable pace with room but was content to find gaps when possible and was through the first half in a consistent time, know that i could keep that up pretty easily for the second lap.
Nice course but by now i just wanted to get it finished, the odd familiar face but for the most part half marathoners are a different breed and i don't do that many nowadays so just kept on running hard to see the clock just tick over 88 minutes with a better chip time of 1:27:55 and ultimately 106th place, not quite what i used to be able to do but good enough i knew at least i still had some speed.
Anna Maria set out with a goal of sub 1:50 and her chip time of 1:49:59 showed she knew exactly what she was doing !!!.

Glasshouse 50K's 16th May

In the week between races i'd finally started organising my US trip so i had plenty of things to take my mind of my next race, 50K's at Glasshouse.
Led the first 10K's or so and was very sad to see dead on the side of the road the massive python that i had encountered a number of times over the years, at a guess it was so big it had been run over as it was stretched across the road, probably 6 or so metres long i'm not a good judge.
I had a lady right on my tail, she wasn't a familiar face but Glasshouse does seem to bring out the best of the lady runners so i was happy to let her take over pacewise. Heading down the powerlines was interesting as usual and i knew by then i had some other runners making ground on me, still made it to checkpoint 8 in second place but was overtaken in the 8A loop, was feeling really good but just didn't have another gear, by then i was seeing many of the 50 Mile competitors (despite that being my pet distance i'm simply not interested in a 3AM start !!).
Was passed by another runner on Cooks Hill but felt good and despite passing no one ended up doing 4:44:28 for 5th of 45 probably my best time over that distance there.
Pretty flat after one tough marathon and two ultras the previous weeks so was very much looking forward to Anna Maria joining me from Montreal the next week as well as the Half we were both to do at Noosa the following Sunday would be great to finish a race in only 90 minutes !!.

DELXC 6 Hour Trail run 8th May 2010

After Mount Mee, definitely felt like i needed to rest to recover with only a 6 day break before this event (which last year was in September - sadly there are often too many events on at the same time particularly in May !), but on the Friday my plans for the rest of the year had been thrown out the window with an offer of a late start at Badwater.
So went there with quite a few things on my mind (not of least the free post run beer :-)).
With the race now on a Saturday the plan had been to drive up after doing some work, but i was later than planned and by the time i hit Cunninghams Gap it was pitch black and for the life of me i couldn't find where the turn off to "Raleigh Park" was so i ended up staying in a cabin at Warwick.
In the morning it was cool and crisp but was very thankful for the latish start as that gave it a bit of time to warm up.
The course was the same 6.2K's as last year (i'd originally thought it was 6.5 but apparently there were modifications both times) and i was looking forward to being back out there.
Quite a few familiar faces and i decided the best option was to go hard from the offset and try to burn them off after a lap or so, probably not the smartest thing to do as at least 3 of us went around in 30 minutes or so and i knew i couldn't keep that up so eased back.
Next few laps went nicely but i seemed flat and by lap 7 was struggling i'd worked out i was in third place (and after being lapped by the eventual winner) knew that was as good as it was going to get, just a case of hanging in.
Sounds easy but by lap 9 i was actually cramping up on the steep hill in the back half and actually went backwards to make my way back, not really sure why i was cramping had had plenty of fluids as well as GU and S! Caps. Just got through the 9th lap before the 6 Hour Cutoff and knew that at least i could equal last years distance, used a stick to get me up that last hill (as worried by the cramping) and finally made it in 6:36:10 around half an hour slower than last year and a lap behind the winner, still that would have to do.
A few beers and all was forgotten, ended up sleeping indoors in the sleeping bag and the next day helping to put down the tarpaulins etc, felt like i was the circus leaving town !!.
Having won the spot prize of a start next year know where i'll be in 2011, just hope i'm in better shape for it, because not only is it a unique event on our calendar but also one of the most enjoyable, only wish for the sake of the great organisers that more were in it.
Sooner or later i'll make it back there for a training run !!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

And now for something completely different

My next race was to be the following Saturday, but the day before my normal ordered world was changed with an offer of a late entry at Badwater (, part of me really wanted to stick to the schedule i had planned (with Transe Gaule in August), but part of me also wanted to go as this meant that i now had the opportunity to do my three in a row there an ambition i'd had since finishing last year. Ultimately that is where i am presently, as i type i'm in Las Vegas and later today drive out to Stovepipe Wells, i hope to do some on the the spot updates from there.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Mount Mee Marathon May 2 2010

Finally it was May and i was due to run a marathon so it was off to Mount Mee, this year the "downhill course" to Dayboro.
Up at 3AM as i was planning to leave the car at Dayboro to get a lift to the start i did at least get that part right.
This was the scene of last years slowest (and only 4 Hour) marathon so i knew this wasn't going to be an easy one and definitely not a PB although in theory should have been the reverse.
Took off well, in dull morning light and as usual coolish conditions and typically here wanted to take the lead, had it for around 4K's and was then challenged by a girl, no idea of her credentials (can't say i do too many races as short as a marathon nowadays !) but was keen to push her and also another bloke hopefully breaking them on the upcoming steep hills.
Didn't quite work that way so thought i'd better stick to my own raceplan rather than trying to run someone elses race so let them (and another fellow) scoot ahead frankly planning to pick up the pieces as the course got the better of them later, wasnt to realise until post race that the girl was a 2:40 Marathoner Roxie Schmidt and one bloke a relay team ! .
Lot's of good downhill but still plenty of uphill and i passed the half in 1:49 hardly world shattering but a big improvement on the other direction.
Had seen glimpses of at least one of the runners in front at various points but Roxie had well and truly flown away, though still had designs on at least being first male.
After finally getting off the trail and onto real roads was told that the next fellow was only 5 minutes ahead and that certainly gave me a boost, but around 35K's in was told by the race director to move to the other side of the road from then onwards and admit i took my mind off the job momentarily just doesnt feel right running with the traffic as opposed to against me and i'm quite convinced that the next runner saw that mental weakness and swooped.
Suddenly i had someone to chase but for once that failed to move me quicker and whilst we were now on roads and heading mainly downwards i just couldn't close the gap ultimately finishing in 3:32:34 4th solo of 33 with Roxie winning in 3:09:50.
Good solid run but already i was having thoughts of my next race, trying to defend my title at next Saturdays DELXC 6 Hour Trail run

Gibraltar Washpool World Heritage Trail 54KM April 18 2010

After an early flight back to the Gold Coast it was now time to grab the tent, grab more gear and hop into the car and go for a 4 hour drive to Gibraltar Range National Park between Grafton and Glen Innes. With Trailwalker on the Friday i always knew this was going to be a tough ask but also remembered just how good this area was when last i hiked it so thought it was worthwhile.
After the Trailwalker frustrations a long drive and another race sounded like the perfect remedy so off i went, finally putting the tent up in the dark (after first going into Washpool NP across the road and seeing the most lyrebirds i have ever seen !). Was happy to see plenty of familiar faces around the campsite and get stuck into some pasta before an early night.
A bit of rain overnight and a little cold but still pleasant weather but simply my tired legs didn't want to be there the first 5 miles or so and it was only once we'd crossed the highway into Washpool (where i'd mistakenly been the night before) and finally i felt i was getting somewhere.
Was getting cool and drizzling more and was very happy to see ANZAC biscuits at the next manned checkpoint (thanks Jane).
Once back into the Gibraltar Park started catching up with some other runners and making up good ground whilst eventually finishing way behind the incomparable David Waugh (with 4:33:10) was content enough with 6th place in 5:46:18 just hope i can do it with fresh legs next year.
As for the drive home (after much socialising as the rest of the field of 24 came in) best said it was long !!!

Melbourne Oxfam Trailwalker April 16 2010

With possibly no overseas races this year i had slightly different goals this year and the Melbourne Trailwalker was probably the one race to the forefront.
With 5 previous starts (for 3 frustrating podium placings) my ambition was simply to finally win one and then i could retire gracefully from team races, not so much because i didn't enjoy them (which i do) but simply because i find them so hard to exert control over, i can run as well as i can but can't do anything about the whole team getting through and there is nothing to me more frustrating than spending a couple of hours walking during a race as team mates have bad patches.
So in short a win in a race of over 700 teams (admittedly with a "pointy end" of around 20 teams) always seemed the appropriate swansong.
Our team had one change forced upon it in February with Michael Lovric being unable to run due to National World 24 Hour race commitments, but we had picked up a worthy replacement in Bryan Ackerly a member of 2008's winning team and teammate in 2007.
I flew down to Melbourne on the Wednesday afternoon looking to have a rest before the race on Friday but all came apart that night when reading emails before heading to bed found that team organiser Rob Hall with injuries sustained 2 weeks prior was a very unlikely starter.
To be honest i unravelled somewhat as i tried to find a worth last minute replacement eventually relying on Facebook and when confirmed that Rob would not be running (15 hours before race start !!!) was fortunate to get Sydney based Keith Hong.
Come race day we had a team kitted in matching uniforms and looking fit and by 20K's we were in the lead, from then on until over half way we ticked along perfectly running easily and steadily and i admit i was feeling confident particularly as i had been running at a very conservative pace and really hadnt needed to worry much about food intake.
Then my least favourite part of the course, the Warburton Rail Trail and Bryan was beginning to have reflux problems (a problem he's had little success with in other events after a certain distance).
Once we hit the school checkpoint we had lost lots of ground and with a bit of waiting necessary i decided it was time for some sandwiches and more food wanting to use this as my last fuel stop with less than 30K's to go.
We now had a new bit of course and looking around at times could see the next 2 teams not far behind, Bryan was gamely hanging on but trying to solve his problem by picking up speed to get the race over and done with as soon as possible was always going to be a risky gambit.
Ultimately around 87K's in he slowed to barely a walk and Mal stayed with him as me and Keith (beginning to feel the oncoming cold dusk) kept on moving steadily.
This was a long section without crew access and it wasnt till 90K's in that we reached our crew vehicle and all getting cold sat in the front of the car.
Bryan was looking deathly pale and shivering and wisely decided that his race was won, we'd spent 20 minutes at the car and two teams had passed us, as far as i was concerned there was only one aim, get across the finish line first and as far in front of those teams as possible.
The last checkpoint was around 94K's and we were around 8 minutes behind those teams by then as we had ran maniacally downhill once the decision had been made, either we'd get there real fast or else end up real injured !.
By now it was pitch black (later in the year than last year when we finished in daylight) and probably my greatest weakness running on trails by headlight but adrenalin was pumping through and we took the others before the summit of Mt Little Joe and crossed the line in 12:24:16 at least 5 minutes in front of the next team. I'd be pushing to actually call this a win but i was rapt to actually be first across the line and i think it's very possible this may still be my last Trailwalker, unless made an offer i "can't refuse", overall a bit of an empty feeling but i was very thankful that Saturday morning i'd be back home and heading off for a 54KM race, maybe that would bring greater joy.

Monday, 12 April 2010

No, i'm not lost in the middle of some mad run !!!

I'm sure there are casual readers of this blog who having not seen any action for months think that i must have finally gone for one big run and bitten off more than i could chew, the answer is no.

It's simple, sometimes i enjoy writing race reports but sometimes i don't - and to be honest i don't enjoy writing about myself - and for the last few months that's been the case, however i've had a number of emails so i thought i should bring my running up to date.

Firstly 2010 has not been a great year firstly healthwise and then racewise.
After a great Christmas spent with Anna Maria, i started the year with a mouth ulcer on my tongue, once it got to the point that i was taking 2 hours to eat a meal i decided that i needed to see a doctor as i also was very lethargic (basically being exhausted by 4PM every day).

The doctor reckoned Bonjel would fix my ulcer and that it wasn't an issue but did send me off for a myriad of blood tests, but i was soon down to the point of only being able to eat baby food (and only the stuff for 1 to 6 month olds - the others were too lumpy for me !), so got some special "pharmacists only" stuff from the local chemist.

So my first race for the year was meant to be The Hares and Hounds 55K's at Woodford in the Glasshouse Mountains (link here: ), and i was not going to miss this as this would also be Anna Maria's first Ultra (she'd had a hard learning curve arriving on Christmas Eve from -20 Degree temperatures in Montreal to find a steamy Queensland Christmas).

Results for me are best summed up as this, 9th place (33 starters) in 5:31:03 against a winning time of 4:14:48. I was actually reasonably happy, couldn't push myself as i simply couldn't get in enough calories from baby food pre race and was unable to eat during the race, so cruised through the the first 40K's and then just did what i needed to finish once i'd run out of energy.

Another week or so and finally i was back on track ulcerwise, but no closer to a conclusion regarding the lethargy as the test results came back with nothing of note (other than an abnormally high level of potassium which apparently shouldn't affect me).

Two weeks later it was Mansfield to Buller (link here: ), and i was pretty sure i was back in shape, but ultimately not one of my better results there 8th of 23 in 4:58:37 way behind the winner in 4:11:22. Not sure what went wrong, felt good, ran reasonably but wearing a new pair of Nike Lunaracer II's (purchased the Tuesday prior) i seemed to feel strain on the right inside foot, probably the arch, when going steep uphill which caused me to ease back at times. Haven't had that problem since with those shoes so can't explain it at all.

Having driven south i decided to go home via the Blue Mountains and run a "Fatass" run on the Australia Day Tuesday, The Glenbrook Fatathon.
(link here: )

Around 43K's (and a little more for me with a wrong turn towards the end), good run but no idea whether i ran well or not felt really good but was i fast ??, although was amazed to see so many starters for a non official run.

The week after was my shortest race of the year, Mt Glorious 32KM

With pouring rain the night before i knew this one would be interesting as the early stages turn easily to mud, ultimately i did run well, at least until half way back when i took a wrong turn which cost me around 20 minutes, probably made the race distance more to my liking but did nothing for my results (finishing 16th of 65 starters in a time of 3:52:29 with the winner doing 2:58:44). Probably my best run for the year up to that point, only have myself to blame for my navigation. Strange thing is that post race i just couldn't get enough Cola no idea if that was why i woke up that night and i had a shocking toothache.

When i'd been to the doctor earlier in the year he'd said that possibly it was a dental problem but having had enough of dentists way back when i broke my jaw (in June 1989) i wasn't keen on going down that path, but this time i had no choice as otherwise i was going to be living on painkillers (and booze :-( ).
Ultimately it was found to be my upper right wisdom tooth and i was slotted in for an operation on the Friday.

Not great timing as in previous years i'd done the Caboolture 12 Hour Race (link here: ) which meant that i would be running less than 30 Hours after the operation.
Ultimately i downgraded myself to the 50K event and running very cautiously ended up second of five in 4:39:13, almost a lap behind the winner with 4:33:51.
Quite possibly i was almost relieved to not win this as many people in the longer events had passed 50K's in way faster times so it would have have been very much a "Claytons" victory but let it never be said i don't run to win, so there was disappointment as well !.

The week after was Maroondah Dam Trail Run (link here: ). Having run all 14 of these i'd be honest and say this was one of my worst results (in figures 12th of 54 starters in 5:53:35 against a winning time of 4:41:26) but moreso by the way i ran, managed to cramp around 35K's in and from them on it was a steady diet of S! Caps and other salt tablets and basically waiting to cramp.
Can't quite put my finger on it but my body was hurting, i know i was a couple of kilos under normal race weight after the problems earlier in the year but simply i was giving my body commands and it just wasn't responding correctly.

The next few weeks were spent ostensibly resting and simply having a holiday in Montreal, but the reality was i was enjoying temperatures of -4 to -8 and rugged up appropriately found i was getting in some great mileage and was having a good time with Anna Maria's running group (

Returned to Australia a few days before the Six Foot Track Marathon (link here: ) and felt i was in great shape, though possibly jetlagged.
This is always one of my goal events and i was looking forward to running a good one (after last years PW in my 18th there), started well and once we'd hit the Pluviometer (26KM and the end of the long climb) was feeling very strong and finishing it off well. Simple the wheels fell off, i ran one of two ways, either very well or cramping and hobbling, quite possibly the most frustrating part being the downhill section from Caves House Rd, usually my favourite part where i can usually expect to pass numerous runners, believe me this time i knew how those runners in previous years felt.
So obviously my body still wasn't quite right finishing 107th of 821 starters in my 3rd worst time of 4:38:42 way behind the winner with 3:20:49, basically my race year was going nowhere fast !.

The week after was Red Rocks to Coffs Harbour (link here: ) and basically i was just looking for redemption from the previous week.
Didn't start well, missing the start by a couple of minutes but ultimately i finally ran a decent race coming 4th of 37 in a time of 4:06:55 with the winner doing 3:37:48. (pictured below with Peter Gray quite possibly the only Aussies with more ultras than i, this being his 250th)

Finally i was back in some sort of shape, for the first time in years i had a couple of blisters only myself to blame as i was wearing my 2006 Model ASICS DS Racers for the first time in two years, obviously my feet have grown (back in 2006 i was only size 12 now 13), but that hadn't really affected my race other than making me run rather gingerly on the headlands and roads at times.

Two weeks to the next race the Inaugural Wild Horse Criterim (link here: ) and i thought that finally in 2010 i was ready and fresh for a good one. Best summed up as 3 good laps (lap being 10.7 K's), one night one (so did as best as i could manage) and one rubbish one.
Very happy until around 3 laps started to feel an upset stomach and made use of the portaloos but was feeling no better and was often reduced to walking hunched over, was very thankful for Coca Cola at the halfway checkpoint as many loud burps later i was beginning to feel better, no more Endura for me after that i stuck to Coke and came home well.

Ultimately 5th of 15 in 5:16:10 way behind Don Wallace in 4:04:40, great runner though that Don is i'd have to class being lapped by him just short of 3.5 laps as one of my career lowpoints my aim all along was to not let him lap me and for me to be hobbling at that point as he flew past was incredibly demoralising.

That was just over a week ago, since then i've churned out the K's (170 for a 5 day training week) and am now in taper mode for Melbourne Trailwalker, after being second complete team across the line last year (and my third placing in 5 TW events), this is my big chance of a win, details are here and race updates will be here on Friday: